Zero to sixty is a fine measure of a vehicle’s performance. Braking performance may well be equally important, if less popular.
Early cars had hand bakes. Soon enough cars had mechanical brakes. The basics of braking systems didn’t change dramatically until the advent of anti-lock brakes.
Brakes pads are pressed against rotors or drums to slow the vehicle. Worn components can squeak or squeal. Severely worn brakes may grind or whine. Some brakes alert vehicle owners the pads need replacing by chirping.
Much of the braking energy is converted to heat which is why brake parts are made of materials that can withstand high temperatures. Please note braking too much, especially when going down steep grades can quickly overheat even the best brakes. Downshift and let engine braking maintain a safe speed.
Asbestos was commonly used in brake parts until recently, making exposure a risk for anyone working with brakes; a compelling reason to consider having brake maintenance or repairs done by a qualified automotive repair facility.
Anti-lock braking systems prevent wheels locking up, a primary reason for an out of control skid. Anti-lock brakes allow a driver to have much more control over the direction of the vehicle while braking, which can allow steering to avoid a crash.
Anti-lock brakes do not make stopping distances shorter - a common misconception. They make braking much safer because drivers are less likely to lose control.
Like a lot of recent technology, the early troubles experienced with anti-lock braking systems has lessened. They tend to be trouble free, but the sensors and control modules can fail, significantly adding to the cost of repairs.
Brake pads are wear items which means regular maintenance is required. The good news is that brakes can last a long time depending on driving habits.
Regular vehicle inspections from a qualified repair shop should include brake measurements so you’ll be able to plan for the expense of replacing pads or shoes and drums or rotors. Failing to get the wear items replaced on time can easily double or triple the cost of the service, so timely maintenance is the far better value.